Mother Nature has an interesting, yet subtle way, of providing the necessary experiences for us to become mentally resilient in our lives. It wasn’t until the COVID pandemic was declared, that I realised this point to be fact. When we are put into situations beyond our control that actually place us in an isolated state, the ‘gift’ can often be ‘life reflection’.
A few years ago, after spontaneously deciding to surprise a friend and fly to the other side of the country for their ‘milestone birthday’, I found myself right in the middle of one the largest Cyclones in decades! Everything that we have been experiencing and seeing in our communities with COVID, I experienced in that situation. The panic buying by people and the locking down of the community was incredibly frightening. Preparing for what was going to ‘hit’ however not knowing what that would be like, was a huge mental struggle.
As the winds increased and the trees were bending over…as the ocean was rising and the rain was turning into water buckets instead of drops….it was obvious that this experience had the potential of being my last. As the Cyclone hit and slowly moved around and above, the sound was deafening and the only place to huddle and keep a mental ‘control’ was in the bathroom which was filled with towels and bedding. It was hours and then….silence and sunshine.
Just as soon as it had hit it seemed like it was gone. As I peaked outside the windows the devastation was incredible. Nothing looked like it had before and the silence was equally deafening. The complacency of safety set in, as it did with many other tourists around me who were venturing out of their accomodations. We didn’t believe some of the locals who were telling us to get back into where we had been and prepare for the ‘next wave’. They kept saying something about ‘being in the eye’ and the worst was yet to come! But the sun was shining? How could anything worse that the hours we had endured happen? An hour later we got the answer and Mother Nature said “This is what ‘worse’ feels like!”
For hours, any trees that hadn’t been uprooted were then pulled out by the power of the Cyclone. The noise of debris flying overhead was nearly as frightening as the increase of the wind noise which was now sounding like 100 Freight Trains all around! I had discovered that during the 1st ‘wave’ of the Cyclone my mental strength from having been told I had 2 months to live a few years earlier was now serving me well.
Yes it was frightening and yes I was so scared however I kept repeating what I had said to myself during my hospital stay – “This Too Shall Pass”. I continued to think of my Sons…our lives together. I kept thinking of the great times we had shared and equally the not great times. I started making plans for what life would be like after I was evacuated back home and the changes that would be made for the better. I found that writing things down was not only helping me mentally it was also surprisingly taking my thoughts from the noise outside.
I am not sure if it was the smiles on the Emergency Services People faces as I carefully walked outside, who were involved in the community cleanup, or the clear sky and sunshine above…or perhaps both…however the feeling of ‘I knew it would be ok’ was strong. As we all worked together in the following 2 days to help each other in the recovery effort, I kept feeling the joy within of how the community of people and support for one another was so unifying. There was no divide, only collaboration.
As the plane took to the sky on its mission to evacuate those of us who were not residents, I looked out over a beautiful part of the world that now was levelled. It was dark, sad and nothing like I had seen when I had flown in a week prior. Yet as we gained altitude, the sun was shining bright and the ocean was sparkling like diamonds being scattered. In that moment I realised that “This too shall pass” and we would all be stronger and hopefully wiser for the experience.
So as the lockdown for COVID started, I realised that this was the preparation for the ‘1st wave of a different Cyclone’. Mentally I was calm and well prepared. Plans to adapt my business and personal life were the priority and even my ‘milestone’ birthday which was due, took on a different style of celebration. Understanding the potential health challenges that could be faced for myself and my family, our conversations on dealing with that were also a priority and worked well.
I reflected on the Cyclone experience years prior and ensured that I had plenty of journalling tools to use on those days where fear would set in. As restrictions started to be lifted I also drew on that point of the ‘Eye of the Cyclone’ and the advice not to be complacent, for the ‘2nd wave’ was a definate and to be prepared.
Whilst we all hope that we don’t see a 2nd wave to the extent of the global devastation we have seen with COVID thus far, we would be well served to continue to be prepared and learn from the lessons that we saw in the beginning.
We have this incredible opportunity throughout this global pandemic to release personal judgement of others, to unite within our communities and to grow positively within. Just like the power of a Cyclone, crushing everything in it’s path, the recovery and the new growth that occurs in it’s wake is amazing. That is what we all have in our hands right now. We have the ‘gift’ of a better life and new developments that can take us all to a more exciting and beautiful place. Especially, and bias is in play, women over 50. The life experiences that we often forget are the ones that we can ‘revisit’ and adapt to help serve others. Our younger generations struggle more than ever with their mental health and as we now ‘link arms’ more than ever in our communities, women over 50 can take a seat at the ‘table of change’ and help make a positive contribution.
As the Chinese Proverb says – ‘when sleeping women wake….mountains move’